Stepp Named WCC Player of Year; Few Top Coach
March 3, 2003
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University's Blake Stepp became the third straight Bulldog to be named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and fourth-year head Coach Mark Few won his third straight Coach of the Year honor as the All-WCC team was announced Monday.
It's the first time three different players from the same school have won the award in consecutive years - Dan Dickau in 2002 and Casey Calvary in 2001. It's also the fourth time in six years the Bulldogs have won Player of the Year honors, Bakari Hendrix capturing the award in 1998. Stepp is the sixth Bulldog to capture the award, joining John Stockton in 1984 and Jeff Brown in 1994 in addition to the aforementioned.
Stepp was the WCC's top scorer in conference play at 20.6 ppg while also leading the league in assists at 5.79 per contest. The 6-4 junior guard from Eugene, Ore., also ranked in the top five in steals (1.5 steals-per-game for fifth), free throw percentage (.857 for a tie for third), 3-pointers made (54 for first) and 3-point percentage (.474 for fourth). He earned first-team honors for the first time after being an honorable mention pick each of the past two seasons.
Turiaf is second in the team in scoring at 15.3 ppg and rebounding at 6.0 rpg. He's shooting 53.1 percent from the field and is averaging 1.4 blocks/game. Violette is one of three first teamers to repeat. He's averaging 11.5 ppg and 8.2 rpg. He recorded his 20th career double-double and ninth of the season last Saturday against the University of San Diego.
Few led the Zags to their third straight regular-season title. He became only the fourth coach to win the award three consecutive seasons, joining Santa Clara University Dick Garibaldi (1968-70), the University of San Francisco's Pete Peletta (1963-65) and USF's Phil Woolpert (1955-58). Woolpert is the only coach to win the award four straight seasons.
Also earning top honors was University of Pepperdine guard Alex Acker. Acker was named this year's WCC Freshman of the Year, becoming the second consecutive Waves' player to earn the award. Teammate Terrance Johnson took home the honor last season. In league play, Acker was the top ranked freshman in scoring (13.9 ppg), assists (3.57 apg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg), as a starter for the injury-plagued Waves.
Saint Mary's College senior Anthony Woodards is the conference Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first Gael to earn a WCC individual honor since Eric Schraeder was named Player of the Year in 1999.
The 2003 all-conference team boasts seven first-time honorees, including SMC's Samuel Saint-Jean who is the first Saint Mary's first team pick since 1999. USF's Darrell Tucker ends his illustrious career as a three-time All-WCC first teamer, and he currently ranks 14th on the WCC career scoring list with 1,768 points.
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